Carlos Gonçalves, Elena Cubero-Leon, Vytautas Tamosiunas, Joerg Stroka
Organization(s): European Commission, Joint Research Centre - Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements, Belgium

Plants produce many biologically active metabolites that have been extremely useful in human therapeutics; however others can cause severe adverse human health effects. Tropane alkaloids (TAs) are toxic secondary metabolites which naturally occur in plants of several families, including Brassicaceae, Erythroxylaceae and Solanaceae (Datura stramonium - thorn apple or Jimson weed), Atropa belladonna - deadly nightshade, Hyoscyamus niger - henbane, Mandragora officinarum - mandrake, and Scopolia). TAs occur in all parts of the plants and the content is such that a small portion is enough to contaminate goods at levels of a few µg/kg. Botanical impurities have been found in a range of crops. The EFSA CONTAM Panel established a group Acute Reference Dose of 0.016 μg/kg body weight expressed as the sum of (-)-hyoscyamine and (-)-scopolamine.

The European Commission has published a recommendation to Member States (MS) to monitor for the presence of tropane alkaloids in food, in particular: cereals and cereal-derived products, gluten-free products, food supplements, teas and herbal infusions and, legume vegetables, pulses and oilseeds and derived products. A proficiency test (PT) was organized by the EURL-mycotoxins to assess and underpin the measurement capability of laboratories in MS concerning the recent legislation on TAs in cereal-based food for infants and young children (Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/239) as well as in tea and herbal infusions. Special focus was given to levels relevant for legislation enforcement for both scopolamine and atropine (1.0 µg/kg). Forty-eight datasets from 18 MS were received. Preliminary results indicate that atropine and scopolamine can be reliably determined in cereals for baby food at levels that ensure protection of this population, since 85% of the z-scores were in the range [-2,2] and 91% were in the range [-3,3]. The proficiency of participating laboratories on the determination of TAs in baby food and tea will be discussed.

Carlos Gonçalves

Carlos Gonçalves, has a degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences (1999) and a PhD in Environmental Chemistry (2007) awarded by the University of Porto, Portugal. Since then, Carlos has been engaged in the study of the occurrence, behaviour and fate of priority and emerging pollutants in the environment as well contaminants (mycotoxins and plant toxins) in food and feed commodities. Till 2008, he served as lecturer of Hydrology, Organic Chemistry and Accreditation and Quality Control in Analytical Laboratories in the Faculty of Pharmacy, Univ. of Porto. In the last 15 years, he built experience in sample preparation techniques (solid-phase microextraction (SPME), solid-phase extraction (SPE), supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), Accelerated Solvent Extraction (ASE), QuEChERS, immunoaffinity extraction (IAC), etc.) for the determination of organic contaminants in environmental (water, soil, sediments, biota) and food (cereals, compound feed, tea) matrices followed by mass spectrometric analysis (GC-MS, LC-MS/MS and LC-QTOFMS).
He joined IRMM in 2013 (European Union Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins) as scientific/technical project officer and he is involved in the development of analytical methodologies for the determination of regulated, modified (masked) and emerging mycotoxins, with emphasis in multimethods using LC-MS/MS. Recently, he has expanded his activities to the field of plant toxins organizing 2 pan-european proficiency tests.
He is author or co-author of 35 scientific papers, 3 book chapters and 22 oral presentations